Former IGP Musa Hassan and another top cop refuse to be interviewed by the defence team in the presence of Anwar Ibrahim.
PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to interview potential witnesses for his sodomy trial hit a snag after two witnesses cancelled their session with the defence team at the Jalan Duta Court this morning.
Ex-Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan and Bukit Aman commercial crimes department deputy director Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof both backed out at the last minute after objecting to Anwar’s presence during the interview.
The interviews are being held by Anwar’s defence team to determine if the two were suitable to be witnesses in the ongoing trial.
Musa and Rodwan were spotted in court today but investigating officer Supt Jude Blacious Pereira was the one who informed Anwar’s lawyers of their decision.
Anwar’s defence counsel Sankara Nair said: “Legally he (Anwar) has the right to be there. It is his basic right as the accused. Take for example if our client can’t afford lawyers, then is he to be denied his right to interview witnesses when he is his own defence lawyer?”
It was understood that the prosecution, led by Solicitor-General II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, had written to the court to seek further direction from judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah over the issue.
Following that, justice Mohamad Zabidin has fixed tomorrow morning to hear the matter with both prosecution and defence team in chambers.
“He (Anwar) has to be there as we may need to seek certain instructions. This, I have to emphasise, has never happened before in my legal practice,” Anwar’s lead defence counsel Karpal Singh was reported as saying.
Karpal said he wanted to correct the perception that the defence was prolonging the case, since the objection was raised by the prosecution.
Six more interviews tomorrow
It was learnt that another six witnesses were scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow.
Yesterday, the High Court allowed an application by Anwar to interview 15 witnesses, including Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.
In his decision, Mohamad Zabidin said that it was the duty of the prosecution team, which provided the witnesses, to make sure that the witnesses attended the interview.
However, he said that the defence had the right to interview the witnesses on the condition that they were willing.
Aside from Musa and Rodwan, Anwar also wanted to interview Hasanuddin Abd Hamid, the owner of the condominium unit where the incident allegedly occurred, and 10 alibi witnesses. The 15 witnesses were among the 25 the defence wanted to interview to prepare for its case.
At the close of their case, the prosecution offered 71 witnesses, of whom the defence chose to interview 25.
So far, the defence had interviewed five witnesses, including Mumtaz Jaafar – a close associate of Rosmah – and Dr Muhamad Osman Abdul Hamid, formerly from Hospital Pusrawi, who was the first to examine the alleged victim Mohd Saiful Bukari Azlan, his youngest sister Saidaiti Azlan, a Kuala Lumpur Hospital doctor known as Dr Daniel, and Khairil Anaz Yusof, a special assistant to Najib when he was deputy prime minister.
In 2008, Anwar, 64, was charged with having sodomised former aide, Saiful, then 22, in the same year. The incident allegedly occurred at a Desa Damansara condominium unit in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26.
If convicted under Section 377B of the Penal Code, Anwar could face up to a maximum of 20 years in jail and whipping.
This was the second time the PKR de facto leader had been charged with sodomy, the first being in 1998 alongside charges of corruption.
The Permatang Pauh MP had consistently denied the charges, saying they were “evil, frivolous lies” concocted to undermine his political career.
On May 16, Zabidin ordered Anwar to enter his defence after ruling that the prosecution had established a prima facie case.
The judge ruled that Saiful was a “credible” and “truthful” witness whose testimony was corroborated by the evidence of expert witnesses, including doctors and chemists.